German Chancellor Angela Merkel might cancel her visit to Israel if the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar is evacuated before the beginning of her trip, Army Radio reported on Wednesday morning.German Chancellor Angela Merkel and a number of her ministers are scheduled to arrive on Wednesday evening for a government-to-government meeting that was postponed for nearly a year and a half because of disagreements over Israel’s settlement policies and approach to the Palestinians.Bedouin children of the encampment held a press conference Tuesday appealing to Merkel to stop the planned eviction, which is expected to be enforced soon.
In May, the High Court of Justice ruled that the West Bank Palestinian Bedouin herding village of Khan al-Ahmar and its adjacent school would be demolished.Two weeks ago, the IDF asked Bedouin residents of Khan al-Ahmar to start demolishing their village which is located off of Route 1, between Jerusalem and Jericho.Generally, the government-to-government meetings of the type that Merkel is scheduled to take part in have little substantive importance, however, they are significant for their symbolism.Such meetings are held regularly by countries that want to show their relationship is particularly close. In addition to Germany, Israel holds these talks regularly with countries such as the Czech Republic, Romania, Greece and Italy.A Foreign Ministry spokesman said that he was “not aware” of threats by Merkel to cancel if Khan al-Ahmar is evacuated.
B'Tselem at the proposed relocation site of Khan al-Ahmar, August 15, 2018 (Tovah Lazaroff)
A crisis with the US was triggered in 2010 when Israel announced plans to build in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood of Jerusalem beyond the 1967 lines during the visit of US Vice President Joe Biden, and – aware of sharp Germany and EU opposition to the evacuation of Khan al-Ahmar – it is unlikely that Jerusalem would enforce the evacuation order before or during Merkel's visit.Herb Keinon and Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.